Pedigree vs Awesomeness

May 12, 2011

Tom Preston-Werner gave the best definition of what University is to professionals in the programming field during his interview on the Teach me to code podcast.

I hear a few podcasts. I like listening people talk about programming while I’m having a walk or heading somewhere.

One of those podcasts is Teach me to code by Charles Max Wood. It’s an awesome podcast about almost any topic that could be related to programming: from testing to hiring developers.

What’s even more awesome is that Charles usually interviews really interesting people like Corey Haines, Dave Hoover, Andy Hunt, Dave Thomas, Chad Fowler… You can get an idea of the kind of people involved.

On the last issue of the podcast the interviewee was Tom Preston-Werner, one of the GitHub founders.

One of the questions Charles made was related to how Github hires developers. How they find talented professionals. Tom knocked my mind with the best reflection related to college degrees I have ever heard:

I find résumés to be almost entirely useless. You send me a résumé and I’ll be like… «congratulations». You send me code… and now I’m interested.

Honestly, I don’t care where you went to school. I don’t care where you worked before. I don’t care about anything except, «are you awesome at what you do?».

And a lot of that comes from… probably half of us, and possibly more of us, don’t have college degrees. I don’t have one, Chris doesn’t have one…

To us is more like… «What can you accomplish? What are you capable of? Opposite to what is your pedigree».

You can hear it from 01:04:00 answering Charles’ question about recognizing talented developers. The exact moment Tom says what I’m quoting here is 01:06:40.

I’m going to get that quote tattooed on my butt. Seriously